During the funeral of the second of two officers who were gunned down on 20th December 2014, police turned their backs on New York’s mayor. The officer, Wenjian Liu, was killed with Rafael Ramos, his partner at the time. Liu, a son of Chinese immigrants, was shot dead alongside his partner by a gunman who was alleged to have grievances against the police. The funeral service was being held at Brooklyn funeral home where speakers lined up to pay tribute.
In the street outside, hundreds of people and police officers turned their backs to a video screen when the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, spoke. In recent months Mr. de Blasio had made expressions of sympathy for anti-police protesters. As a result, many file and rank members of NYPD (New York Police Department) resented the mayor.
The city was stunned after the double murder by an African American who claims to be avenging black men killed by Caucasian police men. Bill Bratton, NYPD’s police commissioner, had urged his officers to refrain from any more ‘acts of disrespect. In a memo he is said to have stated that a hero’s funeral should be about grieving and not grievance. The mayor stated that the whole city was heartbroken during the funeral service. He added that Liu had lost his life as he was fighting for all that is decent and good. He finished by paying tribute to a man who had come from china when he was 12 years old in search of the American dream.
As the speech was relayed, many uniformed officers outside could be seen turning their backs on the screen. In one section of the crowd, a single police officer could be seen facing forward as his colleagues turned their backs on the said screen.
Patrick Lynch, the head of the city’s largest police union, had lashed out at the liberal mayor stating that there was blood on many hands. This was shortly after the policemen were shot. More than 20,000 police officers on December 27th had attended Ramos’ funeral. The sight of many lines of police turning their backs during the event had marred the event for some. At Liu’s funeral Camille Sanfilippo, a retired NYPD detective, asked the Associated Press news agency that since the mayor had no respect for them, why should they have respect for him?
The national secretary, Patrick Yoes, with over 328,000 members in Fraternal Order of Police stated that across the country the law enforcement profession seemed to be under attack. He added that the message that people should take from this was that they were not public enemies but public servants. He made the statement right before the Liu funeral.
Both policemen were shot following the wave of demonstrations after white police officers killed a number of unarmed black men with the starting point being in Missouri, Ferguson last summer. In New York, there was a lot of anger when a grand jury decided not to charge a white police. The said officer is alleged to have place a chokehold on an unarmed Eric garner while he was being restrained by other police officers. This move resulted with the death of Mr. Garner. Mayor de Blasio had at the time expressed solidarity with the protesters. He had even publicly wondered if his mixed-race son was safe from police.